Team USA’s victory over Australia in Melbourne was everything head coach Gregg Popovich wanted from a FIBA World Cup warm-up game.
This is why USA Basketball went to Melbourne. The Americans wanted trouble. They got some.
Thursday’s 102-86 win over Australia provided Popovich with everything he could have wanted from in a World Cup tune-up game for his squad.
A few days removed from traveling halfway around the world, playing a road game in front of the biggest crowd ever to watch basketball in Australia, facing a second-half deficit against an upset-minded roster filled with NBA talent.
Adversity struck, and the US answered.
“One of our big mantras has been ‘composure and poise,'” Popovich said. “Things are going to go the other way in some games. And the way you respond to that is really the measure of how you’re going to do.”
That composure and poise was tested when Australia took the lead on two different occasions Thursday, much to the delight of a crowd of more than 51,000 people who came to watch basketball in a giant stadium typically used for football and cricket, the game being played on a raised court and surrounded by fans in what resembled a Final Four atmosphere.